Position and Self Understanding of Sunni Muslim Imams in Norway

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe
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Norwegian society is markedly secular, and religious leaders generally have no power beyond their own religious community. Public debate is nevertheless distinguished by a commonly held belief that religious leaders are powerful individuals. This is particularly the case with imams, who are accused of having too much power and of using this power to inhibit the integration of Muslims into Norwegian society. This article nuances this image by presenting imams’ activities and work; the conditions for this; and their self-understanding of their position of power in Norway. The imam’s role is illuminated through four fields: 1) the imam’s formal position, activities and areas of responsibility, 2) the imam’s authority regarding religious interpretation and advice or council, 3) the imam as he is presented in the Norwegian press, 4) the imam’s position as tempered by new Muslim authorities.

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